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Published: Monday August 8, 2011 MYT 5:23:00 PM

Resolve South China Sea disputes diplomatically: Defence Minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia wants the issue of overlapping claims in the South China Sea, involving several countries, to be resolved diplomatically.

Defence Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Monday it would ensure a peaceful situation in the territorial waters, as well as enable several countries to jointly benefit from the natural resources.

He said recent Chinese naval activity near the Spratly Islands appeared to be a bid to display that country's presence in the area.

"We monitor the actions of all countries involved. We are confident that China is not aggressive in this matter, but they only want their presence to be known," he said when met by reporters after receiving visits from future Malaysian ambassadors and high commissioners at his office here.

According to Ahmad Zahid, the issue would be extended to the Asean Defence Ministers Meeting in Bali in October for discussions through a military perspective.

"This is because it involves the operation of ships in the disputed area. We want to solve the matter diplomatically and avoid military conflicts.

"We propose to hold a multilateral meeting, instead of a bilateral meeting, and hopefully, achieve a more relevant and amicable solution," he added. - Bernama

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